Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Optimo DJ's interview (JG Wilkes and JD Twitch)

After running and playing at their clubnight 'Optimo' for 12 years since November 1997 to 25 april 2010 Optimo DJ's (JG Wilkes and JD Twitch) decided it was time to call it a day (or night!) and end Optimo at Subclub, Glasgow on a high!

With Optimo came a lot of responsibility, a lot of work was involved within the organisation of the night and it generally totally wiped out a Monday for us too!

We were always there, generally 50 weeks out of the year. It was just time to stop doing it. It felt right to stop it as a weekly club. JD Twitch says "Maybe a year from now I wouldnt be enjoying it, so it was right to stop it now"

It is a way of freeing up time. Optimo was something that started as a bit of FUN! and was almost like a private party for friends who had become bored with the lack of good nights in Glasgow. It became this phenomenum as word spread. They have had a huge amount of well known acts play at optimo. A lot of the time having the likes of LCD Soundsystem play 6 months before they made it big. Optimo DJ's have the ability of bringing great, new music to the people before it became really well known. It was an idea as well to get people who were maybe in band, or were into bands to come and experience what it was like to be in a club and likewise people who were into clubbing at that point but that have never been to gigs.

JG Wilkes, "We are fortunate when we are travelling around to meet a lot of people that introduce us to new music. We're always getting asked to go places, gigs and people telling us what they are listening to at the moment which gives us a great insight into new music."

What shines through from Optimo's ethos and the night is that JG Wilkes and JD Twitch kept the music diverse, never sticking to one style or plan and booking only live acts to play. They always began the first hour of the night with music for listening, more to create a mood and let people chat and have a drink. Their passion for good music and introducing people to something they wouldnt normally hear and trying to remind people there was a world of new music out there. Here is a list complied by the people of 250 Optimo classics This has kept Optimo fresh and exciting and probably the reason it has lasted so long. They both have an incredible passion, love of music and ability to have the insight to a world of music that they want to share with others. This gave optimo the personal touch that is often missing from clubs these days.

The last Optimo brought more than 1,500-2,000 people trying to get into the 500 capacity Subclub. People travelled from all over the to say farewell to Optimo. JD Twitch said, "it was something that spiralled out of control, the atmosphere was frenzied".

Resident Advisor have summed up some of Optimos best moments and you can read peoples testemonials from artists, clubbers and staff of some of the best nights at Optimo (Espacio).

This is not the end though as JG Wilkes says, "It would be very difficult to give up playing to a Glasgow crowd completely" but every week was too much.

The Beginning of something new HUNG UP. Optimo DJ's have created a new night called HUNG UP. The first one was on the 16th May. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to have a chat with the two of them before they played at Nitsa Club, Apolo, Barcelona and ask them about their new night HUNG UP amongst other bits and bobs.

Your new night is called HUNG UP and will run every Sunday night at subclub, Glasgow. Tell me a little bit about the concept/ethos?

HUNG UP will still be completely curated and cultivated by us but we will just not be playing there every week. We will still be in control of organising and booking the bands but we'll be handing over the reigns to others, with a rolling bill of guest dj's. We will still play there sometimes individually and maybe on Bank Holidays we will play together. We have no expectations for HUNG UP but we have plenty of energy for it!

JD Twitch, " a lot of people have asked us if it will be something radically new? BUT our tastes are our tastes. It would be weird if we just suddenly started playing loads of dubstep. We will be having bands such as KXP (formely Opel Bastards) play at HUNG UP. They were meant to be playing at the second from last Optimo but the volcano but a stop to that. Expect to see the likes of Tim Sweeny, David Barbarossa, Ivan Smagghe many more play over the coming months. This weeks (20th June) HUNG UP will be a Solstice Special.

Where did the name HUNG UP come from?

We had always decided that the name of the clubnight was going to be decided based on the result of the election. We put on a night just after the last Optimo and it was called "Keep the Tories out party", then when the election took place and it was a HUNG parliment. It is also a Madonna song and all the other names for clubs have been song titles too. Like Optimo came from a Liquid, Liquid song. Really we didnt have a name we were convinced of so we stalled as long as possible. Now we are getting used to it and quite like it!

Do you have any exciting events planned with HUNG UP in the near future?

We have some really exciting events planned with HUNG UP in the next few months. We are running two events, one in Glasgow (Aug) and one in London (Oct) on the Waverly Paddle Steamer. It is the last remaining seagoing paddle steamer in the world and a truly beautiful boat. It is a great place to have it as loads of people might have been on it as a kid so its a great memory for some. It took some convincing for us to use it at first but then everyone treat it with the utmost respect. They told us that some of the pensioners do's on board can be much more trouble!! So we are able to use it again for these events again. We are also doing some events in conjunction with Tramway. On the 26th June we are doing an event with Tramway and Nurse with Wound.

What will you do now that you have more time?

It will be nice to have a bit of a life back. JG Wilkes,"I have two kids so it will be nice to be able to have more time with them". It'll be great to have more time in the studio, and work with bands. We had to turn down a lot of opportunities to travel and now maybe we will have the opportunity to travel more if we want.

What drives/inspires you to keep going?

The passion for music. Not all gigs are amazing but the ones that are you just get something out of it that transcends anything. Its very, very seductive and enjoyable.

JG Wilkes, "On the promotion side there is a lot of work that goes into the content of a night and seeing it all come together is very satisfying. Everyone that comes is as important as the next person. Also, managing to make a living from our passion is amazing.

Some questions with JD Twitch (as JG Wilkes hits the decks!)

On the front page of your website there is a Mark Vonnegut quote, "We're here to help each other through this thing, whatever it is". I think its a really beautiful quote and wondered why you chose to put it on the frontpage of your website?

I really like Kurt Vonneguts books and Mark Vonnegut is his son and I kept reading this quote. At the end of the day, its just a nightclub but to some people its about having some sort of community and its a good way of summing up life.

I read somewhere that you have about 25,000 records. Where do you keep them all?

I don't drive, so when I moved into my new house I got the garage blocked off and shelved. I keep them all in there. I think if I ever moved then the removal company wouldn't want to do it again. I got rid of loads when I moved and I probably should have a clear out again. I have two collections really, there is my DJ collection and my records which are very personal to me. My personal collection outside of music I use for djing would probably be around 2,000.

Do you play what you feel when you are Djing or do you go with a plan?

I never ever plan. I sometimes go thinking I'd like to play a certain track but I never ever go with a plan. Jonnie only plays vinyl and I have 50/50. I play some vinyl and I also have thousands of tracks on my laptop. I like to gauge the crowd and atmosphere and take it from there.

What DJ's do you rate?

Derrick May is one of the best DJ's I've ever heard. There's Tim Sweeny who has a radio show called Beats in Space, Joakim from Paris and Andrew Weatherall. I like DJ's with a wide range.

Do you ever get to go out and be on the other side of the decks?

Nearly every weekend we're away, so sometimes when we have a free weekend we'd rather not be out. When we are at a festival or somewhere where we have a chance I like to go and get lost in the crowd and do my terrible dancing!

First tape you ever bought?

It was an Action Replay compilation. TV advertised and perhaps the equivelant of "Now thats what I call music" series. Half of the music on it is terrible but it had a Blondie track on it, who I absolutely adore and a track called Supernature, a late 70's disco tune that I still play now.

First gig?

It was a Blondie gig. It was on the 2nd of January 1980 at Edinburgh Odeon.

Best gigs?

This is a tough one to answer as there have been so many but I would say that a lot of nights in Glasgow and many different nights at Pure. Some of the nights at Pure were beyond anything that I have seen since. It was so new and people hadn't really heard of this live electronic music and there was this incredible energy. Which brings up the topic of it being Pures 20th Anniversary this year! There is a party in the pipeline to celebrate, could be the last one ever! at the moment we are trying to source a venue that would be appropriate. I for one can't wait for that one.

Out of all the mix CD'S that you have made what has been the favourite?

It is probably the first one that we did, Kill the DJ series just because we were so excited. In hindsight its a maybe full of too many ideas and moves quickly but we were just very excited about it. We also liked doing that one as we got to do 2 cd's, one wasn't a mix cd it was just a compilation of the music that we would maybe play at the start of a night.

Did you enjoy making the Fabric 52 cd?

It was super exciting to be asked to do one and a little bit of a challenge. Obviously if we play at Fabric Im not going to play an Iggy Pop record as it just wouldn't work. The idea was to play tunes that we would play if we were playing at Fabric but at the same time keep the thread of diversity and play the music we like.

Hopes, Fears, Dreams.......

This is something I am going to try and turn into an exhibition later on in the year. Exploring peoples Hopes, Fears and Dreams. I asked JD Twitch what his were,

Hopes: Within what we are doing I hope that maybe we are making a little bit of difference. Introducing people to stuff that they might not have ever heard before or discovered and giving them some satisfation.

Fear: Having to ever get a proper job.

Dreams: To make an absolutely amazing record of my own.

I enjoyed talking to these guys, they were down to earth guys with no pretence and a real passion for music and people, just like it says on their website, Optimo-Striving to breakdown the bullshit that exists in DJ culture since 1997. They are certainly doing that and I for one wish them every success and can't wait to get myself down to HUNG UP. If you want to see these guys play and don't live within travelling distance of Glasgow, you can catch them playing at these events in the near future.

Check out this weeks HUNG UP with a solstice Special.

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